TIME diplomacy

U.S. and Cuba Announce Embassy Openings

Head of US Interests Section in Havana delivers a letter from Obama to Cuban President Castro
Alejandro Ernesto—EPA Chief of Mission at the US Interests Section in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis (left) meets Cuban interim Foreign Minister, Marcelo Medina (right), in Havana, Cuba, on July 1, 2015.

Both countries will restore full diplomatic relations and reopen embassies July 20

(WASHINGTON) — President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba will reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, heralding a “new chapter” in relations after a half-century of hostility.

“We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” Obama said from White House Rose Garden. “Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward.”

Cuban television broadcast Obama’s statement live, underscoring the new spirit.

The embassy agreement marks the biggest tangible step toward normalizing relations since the surprise announcement in December that the U.S. and Cuba were restarting diplomatic ties. The posts in Washington and Havana are scheduled to open July 20, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said.

Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Cuba for the opening of the U.S. Embassy.

For Obama, ending the U.S. freeze with Cuba is central to his foreign policy legacy as he nears the end of his presidency. Obama has long touted the value of direct engagement with global foes and has argued that the U.S. economic embargo on the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida was ineffective.

The president on Wednesday reiterated his call for Congress to lift the embargo, which he said has failed to bring political change in Cuba. However, he faces stiff resistance from Republicans, as well as some Democrats, who say he is prematurely rewarding a government that engages in serious human rights abuses.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said in a statement that opening a U.S. Embassy in Cuba “will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.”

The president also will face strong opposition in Congress to spending any taxpayer dollars for building or refurbishing an embassy in Havana. Congress would have to approve any administration request to spend money on an embassy.

The U.S. cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro’s revolution. The U.S. spent decades trying to either actively overthrow the Cuban government or isolate the island, including toughening the economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Since the late 1970s, the United States and Cuba have operated diplomatic missions called interests sections in each other’s capitals. The missions are technically under the protection of Switzerland, and do not enjoy the same status as embassies.

Ahead of Obama’s remarks, the top U.S. diplomat in Havana delivered a letter from the White House to Cuba about restoring embassies in the countries’ respective capitals. U.S. Interests Section chief Jeffrey DeLaurentis arrived at the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana on Wednesday morning to hand-deliver the message.

In a highly unusual move, Cuban state television broadcast Obama’s remarks live with translation in Spanish.

While the opening of embassies marks a major milestone in the thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, significant issues remain as the countries look to normalize relations. Among them: talks on human rights; demands for compensation for confiscated American properties in Havana and damages to Cuba from the embargo; and possible cooperation on law enforcement, including the touchy topic of U.S. fugitives sheltering in Havana.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the opening of embassies was part of the administration’s “common sense approach to Cuba.” However, he called for Cuba to recognize that it is out of step with the international community on human rights.

“Arrests and detentions of dissidents must cease and genuine political pluralism is long overdue,” Cardin said in a statement.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met in April during a regional summit, marking the first time U.S. and Cuban leaders have met in person since 1958.

For Obama, the embassy announcements come amid what the White House sees as one of the strongest stretches of his second term. He scored major legislative and legal victories last week, with Congress giving him fast-track authority for an Asia-Pacific free trade deal and the Supreme Court upholding a key provision of his health care law.

The court also ruled in favor of gay marriage nationwide, an outcome Obama supported.

___

Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report.

TIME Crime

Fire at Black Church in South Carolina Wasn’t Arson, Source Says

black church fire Greeleyville
Veasey Conway—AP A firefighter works at the scene of a fire at the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal church, early Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Greeleyville, S.C.

The fire occurred as federal authorities also investigate a series of fires at black churches

(GREELEYVILLE, S.C.) — A fire that destroyed a black church that 20 years ago was a target of the Ku Klux Klan was not the work of an arsonist, a federal law enforcement source said Wednesday.

Preliminary indications are that the fire at the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville was not intentionally set and was not arson, the source said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly. The fire is still under investigation, the official said.

Greeleyville is a town of about 400 people around 50 miles north of Charleston, where a pastor and eight members of a historic black church were fatally shot June 17 in what authorities are investigating as a hate crime.

The fire occurred as federal authorities also investigate a series of fires at black churches in several Southern states. So far, there is no indication the fires are related.

On Wednesday morning, only the brick walls of the Greeleyville church remained. The roof had collapsed, and the long slender windows no longer had glass in them.

The side of the church facing the rural highway had a white cross that appeared charred.

Investigators were walking through the debris, taking pictures and examining the remains of the building.

Yellow crime scene tape kept reporters and nearby residents away from the building.

The image of orange flames coming from the same church the KKK burned down in June 1995 brought up painful memories, said Williamsburg County Councilman Eddie Woods Jr., who got out of bed to drive to the church after hearing about the fire.

“That was a tough thing to see,” Woods said. “It is hurting those people again. But we’re going to rebuild. If this was someone, they need to know that hate won’t stop us again.”

Two members of the Ku Klux Klan pleaded guilty to starting that fire and a second blaze at another predominantly black church.

Speaking at the church in 1996, President Bill Clinton implored people not to respond to what was a string of nearly three dozen church fires — many of them racially motivated — with the same hatred that drove the people who started the blazes. He gave the church a plaque to commemorate his visit, and noticed membership had grown four times over since the fire.

“The American people are the most religious, church-going people of any great democracy,” Clinton said. “We cannot let someone come into our democratic home, the home of our faith, and start torching our houses of worship.”

TIME Egypt

ISIS Claims Credit for Attacks on Egyptian Army Checkpoints That Kill 50

Egypt Sinai
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa—Reuters Smoke rises in Egypt's North Sinai as seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt on July 1, 2015.

The attacks come two days after the assassination of the country's top prosecutor

(EL-ARISH, Egypt) — Islamist militants on Wednesday unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks, including suicide car bombings, on Egyptian army checkpoints in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 50 soldiers, security and military officials said.

The coordinated morning assaults in Sinai came a day after Egypt’s president pledged to step up the battle against Islamic militants and two days after the country’s state prosecutor was assassinated in the capital, Cairo.

The scope and intensity of the attacks underscored the resilience and advanced planning by the militants who have for years battled Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai but intensified their insurgency over the past two years just as the government threw more resources into the drawn-out fight.

An Islamic State affiliate in Egypt claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks, saying its fighters targeted a total of 15 army and police positions and staged three suicide bombings, two of which targeted checkpoints and one that hit an officers’ club in the nearby city of el-Arish.

The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified but it was posted on a Facebook page associated with the group.

Except for the attack at the officers’ club, the rest took place in the town of Sheikh Zuweid and targeted at least six military checkpoints, the officials said. The militants also took soldiers captive and seized weapons and several armored vehicles, they added, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

At least 54 other soldiers were wounded, the officials said. As fighting raged, an army Apache gunship destroyed one of the armored carriers captured by the militants as they were driving it away, the officials added.

Egypt’s military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir, said clashes were still underway in the area between the armed forces and the militants. His statement put the number of soldiers killed so far at 10, but the conflicting numbers could not immediately be reconciled in the immediate aftermath of a major attack.

Samir’s statement, posted on his official Facebook page, said some 70 militants attacked five checkpoints in northern Sinai and that Egyptian troops killed 22 off them and destroyed three all-terrain vehicles fitted with antiaircraft guns.

The officials said scores of militants were besieging Sheikh Zuweid’s main police station, shelling it with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and exchanging fire with dozens of policemen inside.

Northern Sinai has over the past two years witnessed a series of complex and successful attacks targeting Egyptian security forces, many of which have been claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.

Two of the six checkpoints attacked Wednesday were completely destroyed, the officials said. Army checkpoints in the area routinely have between 50 and 60 soldiers. The IS statement said the two checkpoints were hit by suicide bombers.

The attacks came just two days after the assassination in Cairo of the country’s top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, and one day after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed to step up a two-year crackdown on militants.

Last week, Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani called in an audio message on IS followers to launch massive attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is now entering its third week.

Militants in northern Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, have battled security forces for years but stepped up their attacks following the July 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after days of mass street protests against his rule.

El-Sissi, then the nation’s army chief, led the ouster and went to become Egypt’s president, winning a landslide election a year ago on a ticket that emphasized security and economic recovery.

Wednesday’s attacks came in swift response to el-Sissi’s pledge the previous day to carry out justice for the prosecutor general’s assassination — and possibly move to execute Muslim Brotherhood leaders, an Islamist group from which Morsi hails.

Pounding his fist as he spoke Tuesday at the funeral of Barakat, who led the prosecution and oversaw scores of cases against thousands of Islamists, el-Sissi’s comments seemed to signal an even tougher campaign on the Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest Islamist group that is now outlawed and declared a terrorist organization.

Egypt has since Morsi’s ouster waged a crackdown that has led to thousands of arrests, mass convictions and death sentences. Morsi is among those condemned to die, but has a potentially lengthy appeal process ahead of him.

El-Sissi said the government was ready to brush aside criticisms and free the judiciary’s hand for a “battle” the country is prepared to wage.

“The judiciary is restricted by laws, and swift justice is also restricted by laws. We will not wait for that,” el-Sissi said.

Action will be taken within days “to enable us to execute the law, and bring justice as soon as possible,” he said. “We will stand in the face of the whole world, and fight the whole world.”

In a thinly veiled reference to jailed members of the Brotherhood, el-Sissi blamed the violence on those “issuing orders from behind bars,” and warned: “If there is a death sentence, it will be carried out.”

TIME Greece

Markets Rise as Greece Makes Concessions, But No Deal Seen Before Sunday Vote

Greece is in a financial limbo now that its bailout program has expired

(ATHENS, Greece)—Greece’s government has made new concessions in talks with its creditors, though some European officials said they were still not good enough and that a deal was nevertheless impossible before a Greek referendum on Sunday.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent a letter Tuesday night, just hours before the country’s bailout program was due to expire, saying his government was prepared to accept creditors’ proposals made last weekend, subject to certain amendments.

The creditors did not accept Greece’s new overture, leaving the country’s bailout program to expire. But eurozone finance ministers will meet again on Wednesday to discuss the terms again. Hopes that Tsipras was softening his position — after refusing for five months the spending cuts that creditors had demanded in exchange for loans — boosted markets on Wednesday.

But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was clear that no deal was imminent, at least not before Greece holds a popular vote on the creditors’ proposals on Sunday.

“Before a referendum, there is indeed no basis (for an agreement),” Schaeuble said.

In Athens, crowds of anxious elderly Greeks thronged banks for hours from before dawn Wednesday, struggling to be allowed to withdraw their maximum of 120 euros ($134) for the week after the government reopened some banks to help pensioners who don’t have bank cards.

Greece is in a financial limbo now that its bailout program has expired, cutting it off from vital financing and pushing it one step closer to leaving the euro. The country has put limits on cash withdrawals in order to keep banks from collapsing.

Its situation was further worsened Tuesday when it failed to repay a debt to the International Monetary Fund, the first developed country to do so. The last country to miss an IMF payment was Zimbabwe in 2001. As long as it is in arrears on the payment to the IMF, one of the country’s main creditors, Greece cannot get any more money from the organization.

Greece’s crisis took a turn for the worse after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced last weekend that he would put a deal proposal by Greece’s international creditors to a referendum on Sunday, July 5, and urged a “No” vote.

The move increased fears the country could soon fall out of the euro and saw Greeks rushing to pull money out of ATMs, leading the government to shutter its banks and restrict banking transactions. Greeks are now limited to ATM withdrawals of 60 euros ($67) a day and cannot send money abroad or make international payments without special permission.

European officials and Greek opposition parties have been adamant that a “No” vote on Sunday will mean Greece will leave the euro and possibly even the EU. The government rejects the argument as scaremongering, and says dismissing creditor demands will mean the country is in a better negotiating position.

However, government officials have begun hinting that the referendum might not go ahead if agreement with creditors is reached this week.

“Look, if a deal is found, there is a chance there could be this possibility too. Everything is developing,” Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis said when asked during a morning news show on Antenna television whether the referendum could be called off under certain circumstances.

On Tuesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis hinted the same. The government decided on the referendum, he said on state television, “and it can make a decision on something else.”

It was unclear, however, how that would be possible as Parliament has already voted for the referendum to go ahead.

With many elderly Greeks unable to access any money without bank cards, the government said about 1,000 bank branches across the country would open for three days starting Wednesday to give them access to some cash.

But a seeming last minute decision to serve customers on an alphabetical basis, announced by some banks overnight and by others in the morning, led to chaotic scenes of confusion and anger, with many pensioners waiting for hours from before dawn to be eventually told they would have to return Thursday or Friday.

Others were told their pensions had not yet been deposited and they would therefore have to return later in the week.

“It’s very bad,” said retired pharmacy worker Popi Stavrakaki, 68. “I’m afraid it will be worse soon. I have no idea why this is happening.”

Meanwhile, many ATMs had run out of 20 euro notes, meaning the maximum they would dispense per day was one 50 euro note per bank card, effectively cutting the amount of cash Greeks have access to.

Capital controls will remain in place until at least next Monday.

“I don’t have a lot of money, but I have to buy medicine. It’s important,” said 62-year-old Nikolaos Agonatos.

Greece’s latest offer involves a proposal to tap Europe’s bailout fund — the so-called European Stability Mechanism, a pot of money set up after Greece’s rescue programs to help countries in need. It does not include the IMF.

Tsipras’ office said the proposal was “for the full coverage of (Greece’s) financing needs with the simultaneous restructuring of the debt.”

Speaking on a late-night television interview Tuesday, Dragasakis said the new proposal “narrows the differences further” between Athens and its creditors.

“We are making an additional effort,” he said. “There are six points where this effort can be made. I don’t want to get into specifics. But it includes pensions and labor issues.”

On international markets, shares in Japan and Hong Kong rose slightly Wednesday as investors watched to see the next step in the Greek saga.

“International markets appear to have found a level where they are happy to sit and wait on the next developments in the Greek debt crisis. Greece’s failure to meet the deadline on its IMF payment looks to have been fully anticipated by markets. Barring unknowns, the next critical event for markets will be the outcome of Sunday’s referendum,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a commentary.

TIME Washington

Fire Crews Make Gains Against Damaging Washington Wildfire

APTOPIX Washington Wildfire
Elaine Thompson—AP Vern Smith walks through the rubble of his still smoldering home, destroyed in a wildfire the night before, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash.

The fire was the worst so far this season

(WENATCHEE, Wash.) — Surveying the smoldering ruins of his upscale home in this central Washington city, Vern Smith pointed to what had been his garage.

“You can’t tell from here, but that’s a brand new truck,” Smith said, looking at the burned vehicle.

Smith was among those in Wenatchee searching for something to salvage after a fast-moving wildfire destroyed two dozen houses and several businesses.

The fire, which began Sunday, was the worst so far this season as the state struggles with a severe drought. Mountain snowpack is extremely low, and about one-fifth of the state’s rivers and streams are at record low levels.

By Tuesday evening, fire officials reported progress against the fire that has burned more than 4 square miles on the north side of the city, even as they cautioned that more hot, dry weather lies ahead for the July 4 holiday. Fire spokeswoman Kay McKellar said the fire was 47 percent contained, up from 10 percent Tuesday morning.

The fire destroyed 24 homes in the Broadview neighborhood. Downtown, two major fruit-packing houses and two other fruit-related businesses were heavily damaged by flames, losses that will likely total tens of millions of dollars. Wenatchee is a major center of the state’s apple-growing industry.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Nathan Rabe, the fire incident commander, told a news briefing Tuesday.

Nearly 250 firefighters were on the scene, contending with 100-degree temperatures and breezy winds. There have been no major injuries.

Chief Mike Burnett of Chelan County Fire District 1 said Sunday’s flames could have been much more destructive. “It’s amazing no one didn’t get hurt,” Burnett said.

The flames in the downtown core burned near BNSF railroad tracks, temporarily halting rail operations including Amtrak service through the agricultural city. BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the main line reopened Tuesday night.

Dry conditions caused by this year’s prolonged drought helped spread the flames, but initial firefighting efforts did a good job of saving many homes, Rabe said.

“The burning conditions we are in are extreme,” he said.

Tom Bryant watched the flames charge up a hillside toward his home Sunday afternoon, then turned and told his wife it was time to go.

That’s when the front door burst open and a firefighter rushed in.

“He doesn’t knock,” Bryant recalled. “He ran in the door and said to get out.”

Bryant, his wife and pets jumped into their vehicle escaped. But their home was one of the two dozen destroyed.

At his home Monday, Bryant found the burned remains of his vintage Shelby Mustang GT 500 sports car, buried in ash. “It hurts, but it’s just stuff,” he said, while his wife searched for their missing cat.

Smith also noted that things could be much worse. “Everybody is safe and the animals are good. We’ve got insurance,” he said Monday.

Elsewhere in central Washington, a new wildfire was reported late Monday south of the small town of Mansfield, about 40 miles northeast of Wenatchee. State assistance was authorized to fight that fire, which has burned across nearly 5 ½ square miles of sagebrush and grass. That fire was reported 50 percent contained by Tuesday night and no longer threatened any homes.

TIME 2016 Election

Top Officials Aware of Clinton’s Private Email Address in 2009

Hillary Clinton
Whitney Curtis—Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Miss., on June 23, 2015.

Clinton turned her emails over to the State Department last year

(WASHINGTON) — Senior Obama administration officials, including the White House chief of staff, knew as early as 2009 that Hillary Rodham Clinton was using a private email address for her government correspondence, according to some 3,000 pages of correspondence released by the State Department late Tuesday night.

The chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, requested Clinton’s email address on Sept. 5, 2009, according to one email. His request came three months after top Obama strategist David Axelrod asked the same question of one of Clinton’s top aides.

But it’s unclear whether the officials realized Clinton, now the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was running her email from a server located in her home in Chappaqua, New York — a potential security risk and violation of administration policy.

The emails ranged from the mundane details of high-level public service — scheduling secure lines for calls, commenting on memos and dealing with travel logistics — to an email exchange with former President Jimmy Carter and a phone call with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Carter mildly chided Clinton about how to handle the release of two hostages held in North Korea, while Clinton recounted that Rice, her predecessor, “called to tell me I was on strong ground” regarding Israel.

One day in November 2009, aide Huma Abedin forwarded Clinton a list of 11, back-to-back calls she was scheduled to make to foreign ministers around the world.

“Can’t wait. You know how much I love making calls,” Clinton responded.

In one email, Clinton tells Abedin, “I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Can I go? If not, who are we sending?” Clinton was later informed it wasn’t a full Cabinet meeting.

The emails also reflect the vast scope of Clinton’s network, after several decades in Washington. She asks aides for restaurant recommendations for a meal with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (whom she refers to as DiFi), advises her future 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta to wear socks to bed, and passes on advice from former campaign strategist Mark Penn with the note “overlook the source.”

Clinton’s emails have become an issue in her early 2016 campaign, as Republicans accuse her of using a private account rather than the standard government address to avoid public scrutiny of her correspondence. As the controversy has continued, Clinton has seen ratings of her character and trustworthiness drop in polling.

The emails, covering March through December 2009, were posted online as part of a court mandate that the agency release batches of Clinton’s private correspondence from her time as secretary of state every 30 days starting June 30.

The newly released emails show Clinton sent or received at least 12 messages in 2009 on her privateemail server that were later classified “confidential” by the U.S. government because officials said they contained activities relating to the intelligence community.

At least two-dozen emails were also marked “sensitive but unclassified” at the time they were written, including a December 2009 message from Abedin about an explosion in Baghdad that killed 90. Though Clinton has said her home system included “numerous safeguards,” it’s not clear if it used encryption software to communicate securely with government email services. That would have protected her communications from the prying eyes of foreign spies or hackers.

Still, Clinton’s correspondence from her first year as the nation’s top diplomat left little doubt that the Obama administration was aware that Clinton was using a personal address.

“The Secretary and Rahm are speaking, and she just asked him to email her — can you send me her address please?” Amanda Anderson, Emanuel’s assistant, wrote.

Abedin passed along the request to Clinton. “Rahm’s assistant is asking for your email address. U want me to give him?”

Less than a minute later, Clinton replied that Abedin should send along the address.

In June, Axelrod requested her address, according to a message to Clinton from chief of staff Cheryl Mills.

“Can you send to him or do you want me to? Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours,” Clinton replied, referencing some of her top aides.

The White House counsel’s office was not aware at the time Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attacks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Once the State Department turned over some of her messages in connection with the Benghazi investigation after she left office, making it apparent she had not followed government guidance, the White House counsel’s office asked the department to ensure that her email records were properly archived, according to the person, who was not authorized to speak on the record and requested anonymity.

Separately, the State Department on Tuesday provided more than 3,600 pages of documents to the Republican-led House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, includingemails of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, and former Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan.

The regular releases of Clinton’s correspondence all but guarantee a slow drip of revelations from the emails throughout her primary campaign, complicating her efforts to put the issue to rest. The goal is for the department to publicly unveil 55,000 pages of her emails by Jan. 29, 2016 — just three days before Iowa caucus-goers will cast the first votes in the Democratic primary contest. Clinton has said she wants the department to release the emails as soon as possible.

Clinton turned her emails over to the State Department last year, nearly two years after leaving the Obama administration. She has said she got rid of about 30,000 emails she deemed exclusively personal. Only she and perhaps a small circle of advisers know the content of the discarded communications.

Terrence A. Duffy, the executive chairman of the CME Group in Chicago, writes to Clinton that he had dinner on Dec. 1 with “a mutual friend of ours,” South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. “Lindsey always talks about how much he likes you and said if I were to be in contact with you to say hi from him.”

Graham is now running for president, primarily on a foreign policy platform focused heavily on attacking Clinton’s credentials.

State Department aide P.J. Crowley wrote to Clinton in November 2009 that she’d earned a front-page New York Times photo upon her arrival in Afghanistan. The picture prompted an online poll in which 77 percent liked Clinton’s coat.

“Thx!,” Clinton responded. “I bought the coat in Kabul in 03 and thought it should get a chance to go home for a visit!”

___

Associated Press writers Jack Gillum, Eileen Sullivan, David T. Scott, Stephen Braun, Donna Cassata, Ted Bridis, Alan Fram and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

TIME celebrities

Kim Kardashian Says Use of Selfies Can Be Empowering

Kim Kardashian
Lionel Cironneau—AP In this June 24, 2015 file photo, American television personality Kim Kardashian poses for photographers as she attends the Cannes Lions 2015 in Cannes, southern France

The reality TV star talked briefly about how women are portrayed in the media

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Kim Kardashian says the large number of selfies she posts on social media empowers her to control her public image, but also contributes to her being viewed by some merely as a sexual object.

The reality TV star talked briefly about how women are portrayed in the media during a Tuesday night appearance in San Francisco hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California.

Kardashian allowed that while other people might regard her constant posing in front of a camera as degrading, it doesn’t matter as long as she is happy with the results.

During an hour-long Q&A before an adoring audience that was mostly young and female, she also revealed that her husband, rapper Kanye West, came up with the idea and title for her new book of selfies called “Selfish.”

Kardashian’s visit provoked minor controversy because the Commonwealth Club is known for tackling serious topics.

TIME Baseball

White Sox Ace Sale Strikes Out 10 For 8th Straight Game

Chris Sale
Jeff Roberson—AP Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 30, 2015, in St. Louis

Chris Sale fanned Jhonny Peralta in the sixth inning for his 10th strikeout

(ST. LOUIS) — White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has struck out at least 10 for the eighth straight game, matching the best run in major league history.

Sale reached the mark Tuesday night at St. Louis. Pedro Martinez also struck out 10 in eight straight starts in 1999 for Boston.

Sale fanned Jhonny Peralta in the sixth inning for his 10th strikeout.

TIME Soccer

U.S. Heads to World Cup Final With 2-0 Win Over Germany

"I knew what I had to do"

(MONTREAL) — Carli Lloyd buried a penalty kick, Hope Solo got another shutout and the United States beat top-ranked Germany 2-0 on Tuesday night to advance to the title match at the Women’s World Cup.

Lloyd’s penalty kick in the 69th minute went into the right side of the goal less than 10 minutes after Celia Sasic shot wide on a penalty kick for Germany.

“Just slotted it home. I knew what I had to do,” Lloyd said.

Solo has posted five straight shutouts for the United States in the tournament. Kelley O’Hara came in off the bench and scored in the 85th minute, delighting the pro-American crowd.

The second-ranked United States will play the winner of Wednesday night’s match in Edmonton between defending champion Japan, ranked No. 4, and sixth-ranked England. The final is set for Sunday at Vancouver’s BC Place.

“It’s a dream come true,” Lloyd said. “This is what we trained for.”

It was the fourth World Cup meeting between Germany and the U.S. In each of the first three games, the winner went on to win the title.

The marquee matchup led to lines of fans waiting to get in about three hours before the game. The line for the main souvenir stand snaked up a half-dozen ramps to the building’s third level at one point.

The stadium built for the 1976 Olympics, where the East German men won the gold medal, was filled nearly to its blue fabric roof, mostly with fans cheering for the United States. The crowd was announced at 51,176.

Previous games in Montreal had the stadium less than half full, with the upper bowl completely empty.

The United States had several good chances from the start. Julie Johnston missed on a header off a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan’s breakaway in the 15th minute was stopped by goaltender Nadine Angerer.

There was a scary moment in the first half when Germany’s Alexandra Popp and American midfielder Morgan Brian collided in front of the U.S. goal following a free kick from about 25 yards out.

Television cameras caught blood in Popp’s hair, and Brian was prone on the field for several minutes. Both players returned to the match.

After a scoreless first half, Lloyd had a header bounce inches wide to open the second.

Sasic’s penalty kick came after Johnston fouled Popp in the box. Sasic fooled Solo, who went right, but her kick went wide left, prompting a roar from the crowd.

Sasic went into the match as the tournament’s high scorer with six goals.

Shortly thereafter, Annike Krahn got a yellow card for fouling Morgan in the box, but replays showed it occurred just outside. Lloyd’s penalty kick was her third goal in three matches.

O’Hara scored on Lloyd’s left-footed cross.

The United States tweaked its formation for the match. Morgan started up top, with Lloyd as an attacking midfielder with Rapinoe and Tobin Heath on the wings.

The U.S. had success in its quarterfinal against China when it had Lloyd roaming up top and Brian back as a holding midfielder. Lloyd scored the lone goal in the 1-0 victory.

The United States improved to 3-1 against Germany in World Cup matches and 19-4-7 overall.

The United States has won two World Cup titles, but none since 1999. The Americans have appeared in the semifinals of all seven of the women’s tournaments.

Germany has also won the title twice, in consecutive tournaments in 2003 and ’07.

This tournament has played out with FIFA embroiled in scandal.

Earlier Tuesday, FIFA confirmed that President Sepp Blatter would skip the World Cup final, as U.S. officials pursue a criminal investigation into the game’s ruling body.

Blatter’s second-in-command, secretary general Jerome Valcke, also will be absent from the biggest event in women’s soccer “due to their current commitments in Zurich,” FIFA said in a statement Tuesday.

TIME Cuba

U.S., Cuba to Announce Plan to Open Embassies

File photo of U.S. President Obama greeting Cuban President Castro during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City,
Jonathan Ernst—Reuters President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro as they hold a bilateral meeting during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama on April 11, 2015.

Another major milestone in the U.S.-Cuban thaw

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will announce Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba have finalized an agreement to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, a major step in ending hostilities between the Cold War foes, a senior administration official said.

The U.S. and Cuba have been negotiating the reestablishment of embassies following the historic December announcement that they would move to restore ties after a half-century of animosity.

For Obama, ending the U.S. freeze with Cuba is central to his foreign policy legacy as he nears the end of his presidency. Obama has long touted the value of direct engagement with global foes and has argued that the U.S. embargo on the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida was ineffective.

Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are expected to speak Wednesday morning about the embassy openings. The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter ahead of the president.

Since the late 1970s, the United States and Cuba have operated diplomatic missions called interests sections in each other’s capitals. The missions are technically under the protection of Switzerland, and do not enjoy the same status as full embassies.

While the opening of embassies marks a major milestone in the thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, significant issues remain as the countries look to normalize relations. Among them: talks on human rights; demands for compensation for confiscated American properties in Havana and damages to Cuba from the embargo; and possible cooperation on law enforcement, including the touchy topic of U.S. fugitives sheltering in Havana.

Obama also wants Congress to repeal the economic embargo on Cuba, though he faces resistance from Republicans and some Democrats. Those opposed to normalizing relations with Cuba say Obama is prematurely rewarding a regime that engages in serious human rights abuses.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said in a statement that opening a U.S. embassy in Cuba “will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.”

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the opening of embassies was part of the administration’s “common sense approach to Cuba.” However, he called for Cuba to recognize that it is out of step with the international community on human rights.

“Arrests and detentions of dissidents must cease and genuine political pluralism is long overdue,” Cardin said in a statement.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met in April during a regional summit, marking the first time U.S. and Cuban leaders have met in person since 1958.

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